Bike Servicing – A Zen Art!

Bike Servicing – A Zen Art! The wind in your hair… a wild ride. Nothing seems more freeing (or terrifying) than leaving the world behind and hopping on a bike. Your bike… preferably a vintage one. One that’s all your own, in full control of your destiny, hands on the bars, sun at your back. Journey… destination… whatever moves you.

And your bike – whoever it is a Royal Enfield, or an Indian, perhaps you are more of FatBoy person. It needs its own space. It has its own language and moods and needs all the attention, not to mention regular bike servicing.

Bike servicing

“Bike servicing is mainly a process of tightening and loosening small bolts”, said someone! Arghh… It made me wonder how much, or little, do most people actually know about looking after their bike.

While all the modern bikes are much more reliable and easier to take care of and not to mention the vast growing service industry around it. The bike like any other possession requires owner’s attention.

You can and should have a full blown relationship with your bike. Relying on a bike servicing guy when something ‘feels a bit funny’ is a strict no-no. Like any relationship. This needs attention!

And you know what, this really isn’t hard. Bikes are one of a handful of technologies that we deal with on a regular basis where the inner workings are totally comprehensible by the average person. A little bit of time, some basic tools, and an internet connection – and you can master the machinery!

Your bike is constantly talking to you, those clanks, squeaks and knocking noises probably aren’t normal. The notchy sensation as you steer probably isn’t either. All being well, you’ll feel nothing – just a happy hum. Remember, when the bike is talking to you, it’s probably issuing some sort of warning or complaint.

A quick to-do checklist:

1. Don’t be too cool to read the manual If you’re new to the bike world, it’s better to do the research and at least figure out how your model of a bike works, its peculiarities, speed limits, gas consumption per mile and also what a manufacturer recommends regarding the bike servicing. Oh, speaking of that, it’s necessary to take into consideration the riding conditions when determining the frequency of carrying out the bike servicing steps. Depending on the climate, quality of the roads in your local area and bike’s mileage, you may have to pump up the bike’s tires or change the oil more (or less) often.

2. Check bike’s tires The easiest way not to forget to check the tires’ pressure is to do it every time you fill up the gas tank. Most of the gas stations offer pumping-up service, but you can do that pretty much at any bike servicing shop. Also, it’s always good to have a tire gauge in the bike’s tool box all the time, in case you’ll need to pump up the tires urgently or if you’re used to maintain the tires’ pressure levels on your own and you’ve already figured out to what extent they need to be pumped up. Generally, mechanics and automotive professionals note that under-inflated bike tires are quite dangerous on the roads, as they may blow out just as you move and cause terrible accident. Besides, tires in such condition tend to wear out faster. However, it’s not good to over-inflate the bike’s tires as well. Aside from the pressure levels, you also have to check the motorbike’s tires for any cracks or holes in them. Besides, it’s necessary to replace worn-out tires without delay due to the safety reasons.

3. Inspect brakes regularly. Replacing brakes fluid once a year or once every two years keeps the brakes performance on proper levels. As this fluid absorbs moisture, which decreases its efficiency, it’s also necessary to check the fluid reservoirs on regular basis and top up the fluid from a new, hermetically sealed bottle every time (because of that same moisture reason). Change too thin pads of the motorbike brakes. If you continue using them, it might damage the metal parts of the brakes and cause more expenses on full replacement during next bike servicing.

4. Replace the oil in a bike and clean its air filter. Checking the oil levels and constantly keeping it at high or maximum marks is good for the bike, while low oil levels are disastrous for any bike. There’re several rules automotive specialists follow while replenishing oil in the motorbike. First of all, your vehicle must be as levelled as possible during this process, so it’s better to place it on a centre stand. If you can’t do that, just keep a bike as straightforward as you can (or better ask someone to do that). Don’t pour too much oil in, as if it overflows, it will get into the air cleaner and mess it up. To avoid that mistake, figure out how much oil fits into the ‘gap’ between the low and high (or max.) marks and buy an according bottle not to add more than necessary. Be careful not to get dirt pieces or other particles into the oil or oil container while you check the levels or top it off. Use a proper oil filter. Generally, it’s good to change oil in a bike every 1000-2000 miles, but not less frequently than every six months. Frequency of bike servicing depends on how often you ride the bike and how you ride it (shorter or longer trips, weather and road conditions, high or low speed).

5. Take care of chain/belts Maintain proper bike chain tension to prolong the life of its gearbox, transmission and chain itself and ensure smooth and easy shifts of gear. Bike’s chain shouldn’t hang too slack or too tight, as it won’t function properly when the bike moves on the uneven surfaces. Look through the owner’s manual to see how to adjust and tighten a chain in your model of a bike. Besides, chain has to be well-oiled all the time, so you should lubricate it as often as you fill up the gas tank. Some owners suggest doing that after every single ride, when the chain is still warm, so that is soaks up the oil better. But, let’s be honest, rare people do it as often. Usually, bike chains last about 13-15K of mileage and it’s better to change them at the mechanics afterwards. Belts do not require too much maintenance. You should just check them every once in a while (at the minimum during bike servicing) and tighten them when needed.

6. If there’s a fuel filter in your bike, you should make sure that it’s not clogged and replace it once in two years. Make sure you get it checked during your scheduled bike servicing.

7. Perform bike battery check-ups once in a month. Examine its cables, clamps and connectors to make sure that they’re not damaged and tighten the connection if necessary. Check the battery’s electrolyte levels and charge it once in a month or when you feel that the bike’s starter sounds too weak, or when you haven’t ridden your bike for more than two weeks. Frankly speaking, battery is something you shouldn’t mess with if you’re not an experienced motorbike owner. Of course, you can charge it by yourself, but if you notice that there’s something wrong with it, entrust the fixing part to a professional bike servicing shop or expert.

8. Visit to carry out an annual comprehensive examination of your bike just as cars, bikes require full annual inspection to check their gear and state of other mechanisms and parts. Don’t skip an appointment even if you’re sure that your bike is in a perfect condition, as you might skip something a professional eye will notice and take care of. So, don’t forget to book a comprehensive bike examination at the bike repair shop every single year.

9. Wash your bike frequently to get rid of all the dirt and dust that sticks to it during the rides, as if you wait until it dries up completely, it will be very hard to wash it off, and you may ruin the paintwork during the process. So, get your bike cleaned after you muddy adventures straight away (but after the engine cools down). However, washing a bike too often is not a good idea as well, as you’ll wash off all the lubricants on chains and cables as well, and you’ll have to spray them all over again to ensure their protection
There’s an almost endless supply of information about bike maintenance out there.

So there you have it. A short journey towards automech enlightenment.

Happy Riding!